Despite all the love sprayed on NRIs and those multiple Pravasi Divas conventions held in various parts of the country for various ministers to iterate their love for Indians abroad the week of good cheer is a bit soured.
With good reason. As airlines hike up the cost of tickets by nearly 250 percent (from the Gulf for sure) and families largely opt to stay home there is also a tangible sense of loss from the enormous vat of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes lying around the diaspora.
Assessed officially at 30 million people but probably higher by another five million with about Rs 5,000 being taken as the modest average lying with each person it comes to a sizeable Rs 15,000 crore and running.
Most of us keep a reasonable amount in high denomination notes with Rs 25,000 being the outer limit as per law to avoid delays at Indian airports in making foreign exchange and simply pull out the wads that have been lying under shirts and saris or used biscuit and chocolate tins to take a cab home and, in case banks are closed, have enough for Day One and Two.
The stories of long queues and no money and cards not working have made for a change in touching the base.
Relatives in the home country already stretched to breaking point are also not too keen to having us descend upon them en masse.
Rumours and half-truths that the government is listening to last moment pleas from community representatives for a delay in the 30 December deadline for these notes to be vacuumed in don’t seem to have much grounds and the odds are the Not Required Indian will stay not required. Perhaps in the grand scheme of things the sum from NRIs is not astronomical but why lose it.
The Customs form allows us to bring in Rs 25,000 though most of us carry less on each visit. And we do not take back much, just the leftover financial debris of the holiday.
This year the stress level has a different texture to it. For one, there is this fear that carrying banned notes might cause hassles at points of entry. No one wants to be taken aside because they are carrying six or seven crumpled notes. There is no logic in the fear but it exists anyway…there have been enough scare stories on the social platforms to make everyone a little concerned…and hugely confused.
And it does not make sense spending Rs 30,000 per passenger and more for a Y class ticket to make the end of the year deadline when such a low cast carrier ticket usually goes for Rs 10,000 or thereabouts. The situation as it stands is that these Rs 150 billion will be consumed by the clock. Come to think of it, the total is probably much more.
That these crores are going to be largely lost to the exchequer seems to be of no concern to the authorities. Even blue-collar labour has a note or two, often placed in their wallets for good luck by tearful parents sending their sons and daughters to foreign shores when they leave home…a kind of ‘shagun’ that has now lost its meaning.
You would think that one of the mandarins in the Ministry of Overseas Affairs would say, uh oh, that is a lot of money let’s create a blueprint for getting it back and instruct all banks to allow these monies to be sent by courier to the accounts up to Rs 25,000 and let it be accepted.
After all, look at the delicious irony. It is not black money. it is bright, shiny, pristine white money that people want to return.
Allowed to be in our possession by law. So why are NRIs being penalised indirectly for not breaking the law. Echo answers who?
First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 19:37 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst utter confusion, whether there is call for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ or ‘Jan Aakrosh Divas’, Opposition parties on Monday hit the streets across the country to protest against scrapping of high-value notes. While the Congress said that there is no call for a strike and call was only for protests, the Left parties enforced a 12-hour bandh in West Bengal. It was, however, not supported by the ruling Trinamool Congress which is most vocal against the note ban. Taking advantage of confusion, the ruling BJP members also hit the markets, launching ‘Jan Abhaar Divas’ – a day to express gratitude to people for ignoring strike. At many places, they offered sweets and flowers to traders, who had not closed shutters. Further Nitish Kumar’s abstention robbed the ‘nationwide protests’ its strength.The state-wide 12-hour strike called by the Left parties to protest demonetization failed to evoke much response in West Bengal. It evoked a partial response in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In Bihar workers of RJD, Congress and Left parties disrupted train services at many places, but offices and schools registered normal attendance. In Kerala, the shutdown called by Kerala’s ruling LDF on Monday was total. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, but the state remained normal.In Delhi, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad clarified that the Opposition parties had never called for any strike, as it would have caused inconvenience to people. “We had called for Jan Akrosh Divas and not Bharat Bandh,” he said. He claimed that lakhs of angry and anguished people participated in the protests. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened to demonstrate outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence against demonetization, vowing to dislodge him from the seat of power if the scrapping of high value currency notes is not withdrawn. “The entire country is suffering. There is no money in banks, ATMS. So far 80 people have died due to the hardships caused by demonetization. But Narendra Modi is having a sound sleep and giving lectures on taking the country towards cashless economy,” she told a rally in Kolkata.Congress party chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala told a press conference that the ruling alliance was not able to fathom the pain and anger of 125 crore. More than 20,000 beating ‘thalis’ thronged a march organised by Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken in the evening from the Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. Surjewala released a list of rules and directives on demonetization changed 105 times in the last 19 days to point out how the entire country has left the country confused.He said entire informal sector comprising of 90% of India is in deep distress. There are only 2.4 crore credit card holders and 9 crore debit card holders in and many these are held in multiples by one person. As per the RBI figures of June, 2016, there were 48 crore transactions worth Rs2293 crore through these cards. While mobile wallets have grown by 500%, after the demonetization, the amount transacted has been only Rs11,000 crore, a miniscule figure compared to the cash withdrawn, Surjiwala said.In supportNotwithstanding, the Opposition protests, Nandan Nilekani, who was head of previous UPA government’s Aadhaar project, supported the government’s ban on high-value notes. He said while the credit for creating the Aadhaar system goes to the UPA government, Dr Manmohan Singh, he was grateful to PM Modi for taking it forward. “A lot will depend on the next three months. If they accelerate digitization… long-term, it will be a very good development,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh on Thursday said he does not know how relations between India and the United States will pan out under the administration of Donald Trump as the President-elect is not an “established politician”.”I don’t know. Let us see. He (Trump) is not an established politician. We will see how things pan out,” he told PTI after calling on Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at the state secretariat here. Singh was responding when he was asked how relations between India and US would pan out under Trump’s administration. The billionaire businessman defeated seasoned politician Hillary Clinton in the knife-edge polls, defying the odds to become the 45th US President after starting off as a rank political outsider.Asked how India must see Trump’s victory, Singh said, “I have no comment on that.” Asked whether Indian diplomats are being called back after the surgical strikes across the LoC, Singh told reporters that the government would see what is to be done depending on how things pan out. “Diplomacy is the procedure, and depending on how things pan out we will see what is to be done,” he said. Amid the raging Indo-Pak tensions, in a tit-for-tat action, it was reported that India was mulling withdrawal of eight of its diplomats as their security has been “completely compromised.”Pakistan, earlier, had pulled out six of its officials in the wake of a spy scandal involving staffers of its High Commission in New Delhi. Asked about the problems faced by people due to the BJP-led NDA government’s decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes, Singh said in a lighter vein “You and me also (are suffering).” Replying to a query, Singh said he met Siddaramaiah to discuss about Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held in Bengaluru in February.”I met the Chief Minister with regard to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas to be held here. This is an event of India, and that is why both the state and the Centre are coming together,” he said.